Its not often you get the opportunity to meet your childhood hero. But last week I was one of the lucky few to be able to do so.

Coming from South Africa — sport, and particularly rugby, is in the blood. I played for many years at the Natal Sharks and Harlequins as a junior and Loughborough University and Richmond as a senior.

I loved the game. I met my best friends through the game and my value-set emerged from the discipline, mental toughness and teamwork the game promotes.

So when the opportunity arose to have a chat with ex-England Captain, Lewis Moody — I took it.

Lewis, give us an overview of you professional career?

I played for Leicester for 16 years and in 2010 I moved to Bath. I had been in the stands watching them play since the age of 10, so I was hugely grateful to have had the opportunity to play in so many memorable clashes with them. I then played at Bath for 2 years.

That must have been mentally tough?

In truth it was really hard. When you spend your life at one club, it’s never going to be easy moving on. When Leicester told me that I was surplus to their requirements, I was flirting with leaving the game altogether.

I’d had a number of injuries and you get into a rut. I don’t think I totally okay with it. But I understood it was a business decision.  When I went to Bath I only managed played 19 games in total. This was as a result of international duty and injury, so looking back, it was a good business decision for Leicester to let me go.  I wouldn’t have been able to play very many games. That being said, it didn’t make it any easier.

I happen to have the same coach as you did while at school, Mr. Andy Wolstenholme. He tells me he taught you everything you know, is that right?

Wolsty was brilliant. A great coach. You know what, when I was eighteen he moved me from playing in the centres to the back row. This was the year before I became a professional. So I owe him for that one.

What’s on the wrist Lewis?

It’s a Bremont Supermarine. I like that the Supermarine are Bremont’s divers watches inspired by aviation principles and the anti-magnetic Faraday cage.

I’ll tell you the story, I met the Nick And Giles English about four years ago,  just after I retired, during the olympics. At the time I was flirting with doing a trip, across the South Pole as I had just done the Ukon Ultra Marathon. The South Pole trip never materialised but I did get to meet the Bremont team as a result, and we’ve been in touch ever since.

Have you always been a watch guy?

Very much so. I’ve loved watches my whole playing career. For a man, a watch is the ultimate luxury. I’ve got a small collection of twelve or so at home from a variety of brands, but I appreciate Bremont as a British brand.

Why Bremont?

Honestly, when I met Nick And Giles I just thought they were down to earth blokes. And I loved the story behind their watches. I’ve also been massively impressed at how they have developed the brand from nothing when they started in 2002.  Their watches are rugged and versatile which appeals to a bloke like me, who likes the active life.

Looking back at rugby career, who was the one guy that you disliked playing the most?

It would have to be this South African guy called Bakes Botha. I remember whenever we used to play against him, he used to clear me out with his knees, his elbows, his head, and I was just a school boy then. When you play at international level or any level you want to test yourself against the very best and South Africa always gave me that test. You knew you had been in a clash when you came off the pitch having played the South Africans. However, I would have to say New Zealand as a team were the full package. They would test you in every facet of the game, not just physically.

I’m fascinated by culture, both in a sporting context and in business, who were the characters you will look back upon as great leaders and why?

One of the major influences, while I was at Tiger, was a guy called Pete Tong who was the guy at the top. He was affable  but also a hard-nose businessman. The key was that he made everyone in that club, not just the players, feel as though they were contributing to the success of the team. And when you have guy like that who sets that type of example at the top and really gets people to buy into it — it elevates everyone throughout the club. You’v got the guy on the door, the groundsman believing that he’s had as important a role as the guys on the pitch and that makes a huge difference. The key is that it starts at the top and filters down.

Who inspires you?

As a kid, on reflection is would be my old man. When I think back he just worked incredibly hard. And I respect that. Like anything in life, if you want to be successful, you have to have that work ethic. Sporting wise, as a kid I always loved American football and used to watch the Chicago Bears.  I would say Walter Payton? That guy is a machine. It was often like he got tackled from five different directions and the man just refused to give up. That’s what I really enjoyed about him — that tenacity.

Looking back, who did you like going into matches by your side?

Playing with and for Martin Johnson, the world cup winning captain in 2003 was very special. I grew up watching him and then at 18 years old I had the opportunity to play with him. It sounds sad but I really wanted to be better so I could play alongside him. Because, you knew when the whistle blew, the first man to pile into a tackle or breakdown would be him. He inspired those around him to be better than they thought they could be. When I used to go away with England, a lot of the guys tended to have a break once they got home, but ‘Jonno’ was straight back in the very next day setting standards. He was just awesome, and a good bloke.